Mar 112013

Packys Pub St Pattys BounceEvery year, bars and taverns all over the world get into full-fledged party-mode to celebrate the life of Saint Patrick who passed away on March 17th of the year 461.  This day is a public holiday in Ireland, Newfoundland, and Montserrat, a British island located in the Lesser Antilles.  The holiday is also widely celebrated in Great Britain, United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.  To celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, followers have parades and festivals, play Gaelick folk music and dancing, wear lots of green and use the shamrock symbol in all decorations.

Soulicide St Patty Party Cagneys SaloonAs with other holidays that fall on different days of the week each year but are not national holidays in the United States, we are forced to make a decision whether or not to celebrate them on a different day of the week.  This discussion came about this past Halloween where October 31st was a school night instead of a weekend.  Should St Patrick’s Day be celebrated on March 17th or the nearest weekend day?  Judging from local happenings around town, everyone has made different decisions, which means that you can celebrate several times this year in just our local region.  For example, the City of Fort Lauderdale held festivities on Saturday, March 8th while the City of Hollywood had their parade and festival on Sunday March 9th, fully a week early!  One of the largest parades in our area is yet to come; Delray Beach is expecting over 150,000 attendees for it’s 45th annual parade on Saturday the 16th.

Leprechans at Premier BilliardsFor the purpose of this blog, I am going to concentrate on our local bars and restaurants which support our local bands.  Some have chosen to forgo the traditional Sunday for a bigger bang on Saturday night.  Others have decided to celebrate all weekend long.

You can surely expect every bar in town to have bands on Saturday night and there would be too many to list here. I will therefore highlight only times and locations for Sunday, March 17th since they are not at your usual late night hours.   In fact, some bars will be open as early as 8am!  A complete listing of live-music events and notes where warranted will be added to the calendar at as we approach that magical day.


Calamity Jane at The Sunset Grill in Coconut Creek Casino 1pm

Furious George at Johnny O’Brian’s Irish Pub in Coconut Creek 3pm

Shakey-T band at Lefty’s Tavern in Coral Springs 3pm

Jeff Prine & Juanita Dixon at The Downtowner Saloon in Fort Lauderdale 3pm

bOunce at Packy’s Pub in Lighthouse Point 5pm

Stereotomy at JP Mulligans in Pembroke Pines 5pm

The Double Standard at Mugshots Bar & Grill in Margate 5pm

Classic Rock Therapy at The Sunset Grill in Coconut Creek Casino 6pm

SLEJJ at Chit Chats in Pompano Beach 7pm

Riverdown  at Johnny O’Brian’s Irish Pub in Coconut Creek 8pm

Stone Mojo at Whiskey Tango in Hollywood 8pm

The Shindigs at The Hurricane Lounge in Delray Beach 9:30pm

Furious George and Riverdown



As you can see, the partying will start early and end pretty late so you may want to get as much work out of the way before the weekend begins – you may be in full recovery mode come Monday.  By the way, in 2014, St. Patrick’s Day will fall on a Monday!


 March 11, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Mar 032013

Hard Rock RisingThe month of March features not one but TWO entirely distinct battle of the bands contests at two casinos located on either end of Broward County.  First, there’s Hard Rock Rising which begins at the Hard Rock Cafe on March 8th and then there’s the Rock ‘n Roll Shootout starting March 12th at the Nectar Lounge inside the Coconut Creek casino.

In the first of two blogs on the subject, which I put together with my cohort in crime, Cindy Starr, we will give you all the details on the International battle of the bands about to begin this coming Friday at the Cafe in Hollywood.

Partnered with Reverbnation since 2011, Hard Rock Hotels and Hard Rock International is now conducting it’s fifth annual search for the best bands on a global scale.   Prior to that, Hard Rock Cafe’s held only local contests.

Hard Rock Rising Facebook There are 96 participating Hard Rock locations around the world this year. A full list can be found on the Hard Rock Rising Facebook page.   More than 12,000 bands signed up during this year’s registration phase, which began in January.  Using Facebook as a means of publicizing the event, nearly one million votes were cast by fans of the registered bands around the globe. Musical groups from all over the world, including China, India, Greece and Peru sent in their entries for a chance to win thousands in prizes.  Fifty-two bands from Florida alone were selected spanning from Key West to Tampa.

Almost any band was able to enter the Hard Rock Rising competition, whether they are just starting out or have years of experience.  After votes were received from fans,  an industry panel reviewed submissions and looked for qualities such as Musicianship, Marketability, Voice Talent and Originality.

Here’s the breakdown of what we can expect in the coming months.  Between February 18th and April 15th, the selection of Local Finalists begins at participating Hard Rock locations.  Then on April 22nd and lasting until May 1st, a second Fan Voting Period will be promoted via FaceBook and will reduce the finalists down to 25. These lucky 25 will be up for consideration between May 2nd and May 5th during the Judging Period #2 and by a panel of qualified judges that were pre-selected by the sponsor and may include celebrities and/or professionals in the music industry.  Then on May 6th the Grand Prize winner and two runner-ups will be announced.

Hard Rock Rising IndiaThe Grand Prize winner will play a World Tour in cities including Sydney, Tokyo, London, Chicago and Honolulu.  They will also record an album with Hard Rock Records, shoot a music video and receive new music equipment and gear valued at $10,000.  Two runner-up bands will each receive new music equipment and gear valued at $10,000.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?  I will be attending the qualifying battles at the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood on March 8, 15, 22, and 29th with the final battle on April 5th.  Please join me at this most exciting event!

Special thanks to Cindy Starr for interviewing Hard Rock International Music & Artist Relations John Kirkpatrick specifically for this blog.  Her complete interview can be found on Musician’s Mayhem Magazine, March Edition.


 March 3, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Feb 252013

In my last blog, I reviewed some of the regularly scheduled concerts staged by local municipalities in and around Broward County, Boca Raton and Delray Beach.  This month appears to be one of the best months of the year for outdoor festivals, whether they be sponsored by cities, churches or private organizations.  The weather is just right for enjoying outdoor festivities and there’s lots to do around town.  Looking at the Weekend Broward calendar, I see several events of interest.

Delray Beach Garlic FestivalFirst, there’s the Garlic Fest in Delray Beach which kicks off at 6pm on Friday, February the 8th with The Fabulous Fleetwoods and ends on Sunday night at 6pm with a local band called The Long Run, a tribute to The Eagles.  While listening to the bands, you can sample culinary delights and watch a competition of top chefs vying for the price of Top Garlic Chef.  The Garlic Festival takes place around Old School Square, just North of Atlantic Avenue, East of Federal Highway.  More details are available on the WeekendBroward calendar and the event website,

st colemans italian festThe following weekend, St. Coleman’s Catholic Church holds their 30th annual Italian Fest.  They have packed as many activities as possible into this 3 day event starting at 2pm with an Open Mic on Friday, February 15th and ending with The Bulldogs playing on Sunday evening at 6:30pm.  One of my favorite U2 Tribute bands, looking as authentic as they get, will play Friday night at 9pm.   The festival also features a fair with lots of rides for the kids, arts & crafts, some “church” gambling games, a silent auction and great Italian fast food!  The complete band schedule can be found on WeekendBroward and the event website,

Margate Street FestivalThe same weekend, on the other side of town, the Margate Chamber of Commerce has organized a festival with an international theme.  Festivities kick-off Friday with a carnival from 6-11 pm. Gates open Saturday at noon with ethnic foods, a car show and performances by local school groups and athletic clubs. When the sun sets , the main stage lights up with headline acts such as Lazy Bonez, an 80’s Rock Tribute Act, until 11 pm. Sticking with the theme, the bands  are expected to play a wide genre of music, including Caribbean, Rock, Country, Latin, Haitian, R&B and Pop.  Musical acts will continue all day Sunday with amusements, eats, bounce houses and crafters until 7 pm.  More information is available on the event website at

Joel DaSilva Midnight HowlOn the other hand, if you are a fan of blues, don’t miss The Riverwalk Blues Festival which takes place all day long on the 16th right behind and inside The Downtowner Saloon and Maxwell Room, directly across the river from Downtown Fort Lauderdale.  Blues Blast Award winners for Best Band of the Year for 2012 Trampled Under Foot will headline the event, along with Blues Music Award Nominee Albert Castiglia, and Nikki Hill with Matt Hill (2011 BMA winner for Best New Artist). International Blues Challenge Winner Joey Gilmore is also performing and this Year’s Local IBC winner Joel DaSilva and Midnight Howl, as well.  This is a not to be missed event for the blues fans out there.  Sunday, February 17th will continue the theme as the festival becomes a Blues Film Fest.  A two day pass will set you back $25.  All the details can be found at


80s Festival Boca RatonDo you like to reminisce about the good ‘ole 80’s? On February 23rd, Karma Entertainment Group is holding the 1st annual 80’s Fest at Sunset Cove Amphitheater in South County Regional Park in Boca Raton. Performers expected for this event include Eddie Money, Debbie Gibson, Gioia Bruno, Stacey Q and many more that will bring back the memories.  Unlike the other festivals mentioned in this blog, this one will set you back a minimum of $32 for tickets.  More information can be found at

St Ambrose CarnivalFinally, the month of February ends on a Thursday, which happens to be the start of yet another Festival, courtesy of St. Ambrose Church in Deerfield Beach.  The St. Ambrose carnival, for it’s 19th year, like the Italian Fest earlier in the month, offers rides, food and other fundraising opportunities for the Church.  At the same time, it is also a music festival kicking off on Thursday, February 28th with local teen band South of Sheridan followed by Classic Rock Therapy at 7:30.  The next day, musical entertainment starts at 5:30pm and ends with a Tribute to Billy Joel scheduled for 8:45pm.  The music continues on Saturday and Sunday featuring many renowned local cover bands such as Rough Shot, and Riverdown.  Once again, the complete schedule can be found on

 February 25, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Jan 082013

Editors note: This was written in 2013.  Click HERE for 2015.

Do you love live music but hate going to a smoky bar and watching bands scream in your ears past the midnight hour only to head home half intoxicated?  Why not take advantage of the bigger budgets and larger stages provided by local municipalities?  Cities spend thousands of dollars entertaining their residents but rarely use social media such as Facebook to promote their events, so sometimes it pays to Google their website or pick up local free newspapers and look for festivals and concerts sponsored by the local parks & recreation departments.  Unlike local bars and restaurants, most municipalities don’t have the resources to pay or manage a schedule of great bands every weekend, however, if you know where to look, you can find some treasures, literally in your backyard.

Over the past few years, I have covered concerts at cities such as Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Parkland, Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Margate, Pompano Beach, Sunrise and Hollywood to name just a few.  Each of these cities have either permanent or mobile stages at large outdoor parks that make them ideal for enjoying the great weather we get down here in South Florida and give local bands a chance to provide as close to a concert experience as you can get with the budgets they are given.

The key to enjoying these concerts is to be prepared by knowing what to expect.  For example, many of these concerts take place during the dinner hours.  That means knowing in advance if you can expect food vendors to be on-site or if you should pack a picnic.  You should also know whether or not you can bring fold-up tables, lawn chairs or large beach blankets.

What follows are some of the cities you might like to consider if you want to experience local bands on a bigger stage as the sun sets over the horizon and the temperatures drop to just the right comfort level.

Coconut Creek

Orange Sunshine outdoor concert

Orange Sunshine

The City of Coconut Creek has a bandshell tucked away in a low profile but perfectly modern park behind their community center at the corner of Coconut Creek Parkway and Lyons Road.  The park has a playground and great walking paths too.  Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and coolers.  Food and beverages can be purchased on-site from Bobby G’s Drivin’ Diner Food Truck or you can bring your own.  Upcoming concerts include:

Sunday, January 13th 4pm-5:30pm – Orange Sunshine – “60’s flashback”

Sunday, February 10th 4pm-5:40pm – The Nucklebusters – “Chicago blues & rock”



The City of Coral Springs usually has free monthly concerts at Betty Stradling Park on the corner of Wiles Rd. and Coral Springs Drive, however, being that this year is the city’s 50th anniversary, they will be holding special events at other locations.  Here are a couple of upcoming special events to look for:

Saturday, January 12, 2013, from noon to 4 p.m., BizArt Festival takes place in the lot next to City Hall South at 9530 W. Sample Road, and will feature live bands, face painting, food trucks, local artists and much more. Visitors will have a chance to enjoy local up and coming artists, as well as taste delicious meals from food trucks.

On Wednesday, January 30 at 7 p.m. at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Good Vibrations will perform an ultimate tribute to The Beach Boys. This  event is free but you must get tickets in advance from the City Hall or City Hall in the Mall.  There is a limit of two tickets per household and you must present a photo ID when picking up tickets. The audience must be 15 years or older to attend this special anniversary event.


Shadow Creek outdoor concert

Shadow Creek

The City of Parkland operates a beautiful, large amphitheatre at Pine Trails park, located at the North end of Coral Springs Drive, 10561 Trails End. Food vendors may be on site selling popcorn and hot dogs but you are encouraged to bring your own food, chairs, tables, blankets, etc.  Upcoming events include:

Saturday, January 19, 2013 – 7pm – 8:30pm Dueling Piano Show

Saturday, February 2, 2013 – 7pm – 8:30pm US Stones (Rolling Stones Tribute)

The Goodnicks band

The Goodnicks

The  City of Margate has cleared out a piece of land on the corner of State Rd. 7 and Margate Blvd and holds regular events they call “Sounds at Sundown”.  Several Food trucks are usually on-site for a good variety of food, so come hungry.  Bring your own lawn chairs as seating is limited. Upcoming event dates include:

Saturday, January 12, 2013 6pm-8pm  The Goodnicks (Classic Rock & Roll)

Saturday, February 9th, 2013 6pm-8pm Orange Sunshine (60’s Tribute)


Delray Beach

Amber Leigh outdoor concert

Amber Leigh

The City of Delray Beach loves to promote Arts & Culture and has the perfect outdoor venue for doing so located at 51 North Swinton Avenue, just North of Atlantic Avenue aka “The Avenue”.  It used to be called The Old School Square but is now known as the Center for the Arts.   You can find great bands playing at “The Pavilion” stage every Friday night. Pets and outside food and beverages are discouraged in lieu of the many food trucks and cash bar which are on-site on concert nights.  You will find different styles of music each weekend.  When the music is over, you can enjoy a stroll down “The Avenue”.  Here are some examples:

Friday, January 117:30pm-9pm Plaid Blazer (old school hip-hop featuring Drew Tucker.)

Friday, January 18 7:30pm-9pm  Marlow Rosado y La Riqueña (salsa, rock,  meringue, hip-hop, bachata, reggaeton…)

Friday, January 25  7:30pm-9pm Amber Leigh (Country)


Roll the Stones tribute rolling stones

Roll the Stones

On the second Friday of each month from January through May, the City of Sunrise hosts Sunrise at Sunset.  The Civic Center Amphitheatre is located at 10610 West Oakland Park Boulevard, between Nob Hill and Hiatus Rd.  Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live music under the stars.

Here are a few of their upcoming events:

Friday, January 11 – 7pm-9pm: Marshall Brothers Band (Tribute to The Allman Brothers)

Friday, February 8 – 7pm-9pm: Roll the Stones (Tribute to the Rolling Stones)

Friday, March 8 – 7pm-9pm: Gaucho (a jazz/rock tribute to Steely Dan)

City of Hollywood

Perhaps no city in South Florida supports more outdoor concerts than the City of Hollywood.  With one venue on the beach, another one just a few miles away in Downtown Hollywood, and yet another one in the Western section of the city, Hollywood brings live music to its many residents and tourists almost every day of the week!

Hollywood Beach Theatre

Electric Arrow classic rock band

Electric Arrow

Free concerts are presented at this outdoor theatre located at Johnson Street and the Broadwalk every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Seating on long metal benches are permanent fixtures so there is no need to bring your own lawn chairs.  Be sure to wear your flip flops so you can get sand between your toes!

Here are just a few samples of the many upcoming events at the Beach:

Friday, January 11 – 7:30pm-9pm One Flight Down (Dance Party Rock)

Saturday, January 12 – 7:30pm-9pm – Grant Piper (Blues Rock)

Wednesday, January 16 – 7:30pm-9pm – Robin Avery (Smooth Jazz)

Friday, January 18 – 7:30pm-9pm – Electric Arrow (Classic Rock)

Saturday, January 26 – 10am-9pm – Canada Fest (Many French Canadian Artists)

ArtsPark LIVE!

Artspark Hollywood outdoor concert

ArtsPark Live spectators

ArtsPark LIVE! concerts are usually scheduled every Friday and Saturday evening on the amphitheater stage located at One Young Circle (Hollywood Blvd & US-1).  Concerts feature a variety of musical genres from 8:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. unless otherwise listed.

ArtsPark has a permanent, full-size stage that can accommodate large bands and even orchestras.  With an amphitheatre setup, there is a good view from all angles.  It is recommended that you bring at least a blanket to lay out on the hill-top overlooking the stage.

Unfortunately, there were no scheduled concerts at the time of this blog.

Hollywood West Concerts

Rough Shot country rock band

Rough Shot

The Boulevard Heights Amphitheater, located at 6770 Garfield Street, is home to monthly concerts featuring a variety of musical genres. Concerts are scheduled the second Saturday evening of each month with the exception of December and July, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., weather permitting.

Blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets are welcome under the beautiful oak tree canopy.

Saturday, January 12th 7:30pm-9pm Rough Shot (Country, Southern Rock)

Saturday, February 9th 7:30pm-9pm King Muddfish (Blusey Swamp Rock)

As you can see, there is no lack of live music, even in the earlier hours for those of you who want to see some great bands without going too far or paying an arm and leg for tickets.  It may take a little planning, but with this guide, I hope that you will arrive prepared to enjoy your evening under the stars.  If you still feel lazy about doing all this research, don’t forget that there’s always a calendar at


P.S. Here’s an updated list for Spring-Summer 2015

 January 8, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Dec 192012

This month, I share with you the thoughts of several local musicians on the hot topic of  “the return date” – in other words, when will they be back at the same venue and how often.  Jimi Robinette of Riverdown recently brought up the subject on his Facebook page, sharing his years of experience as a member of Riverdown with others who may be struggling to learn the business of getting hired by local bars and restaurants.  Here is an excerpt of his message:

Jimi Robinette at BootleggersThe return date is the key to all cover bands’ success. Not the waitress, not the bartender, not the GM, not the owner, and not the drunken patrons. Believe it or not, sometimes not even the ring at the register. The “return date” is the sure sign that you have been selected as the few who have made it through the process. The Cover Band business is a multi-billion dollar business in this country, so don’t ever take it lightly. Doesn’t really matter how great you think your band is or how wonderful everyone thinks you may be –  it’s the return date. Not a bigger compliment in the business then the return date. Stop taking it so personally, It’s strictly business. No one cares how long you’ve been in the business or who you have shared the stage with – sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

George Malin of Bounce Rocks chimed in with his advice:

George Malin of Bounce RocksI personally think more bands would have a better relationship with clients if they treated it as if they were entering into a partnership as opposed to just getting paid for a gig. I treat every client/club/bar with an understanding that we are all here to make some money and do what we love, and that we should work together to reach both of our goals. On a private party level, I treat every client with that same attitude, but where the goal isn’t to make money but to create an amazing memory/experience. Hear me PLEASE: Playing live music for a client is about giving something, not taking.

Ken Hurley of Shovel-Head has also been in the “business” for many years and has his own philosophy which makes booking his band a win-win for everyone.

Ken Hurley of Shovel Head at Shenanigans in HollywoodIn our Band, we prefer to work on a Long term Schedule. That is why we do this in a quarterly schedule, when at all possible. Some Bars or clubs like to work short term. Those are more difficult to book when we work this way. The First initial benefit with long term booking is being able to work around others’ schedules. Like most others out there, we have day jobs and families, So, we are able to make allowances for important dates, ie: Birthdays, anniversaries, Uncle Louie’s release from the nut house… you know – important stuff. It also lets us plan special shows, Veteran’s Day, a fan’s birthday, a buddy’s divorce, eh, you get the picture. As Long as the Bar or Club is on the same page, you have more time to plan and HELP promote an event. I use the Words “HELP promote” because I am a Firm Believer that as a Performer it is Not my Job to Put all the Bodies in the seats… it’s my Job to keep them there… But that is a song for another Day.  When I book long term, I can plan ahead and make the most out of a crowd. If you know you can come see us tomorrow, what’s the hurry about seeing us today?  The down side is clubs that book short term – how do you make time? We try.  We usually have a few open dates and folks that like us enough will usually call and check with us to see if we “just so happen” to have a certain night open and sometimes we do!  And often times we take it, even though we may have planned for a night off. We really do love to play! To make any of this work, everyone has to be on the same page. They must be professional, dependable and organized enough to pull it off. It really is tough work, but with some forethought and planning, you can make the most of your gigs and make you and the Club you play happy campers. Again I am No expert.  I am just a humble singer. See you out there!!

Thank you Jimi, George and Ken for allowing me to publish your advice in the hopes that it will be used by both venues and bands to make every gig a more enjoyable experience for fans everywhere. ‘looking forward to seeing and hearing you out and about soon!


 December 19, 2012  Posted by  Weekend Blog Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Nov 052012

I want to send a message out to all the musicians and venues who host bands week after week. Clean up! I know that you are artists and sometimes care more about your music than how you look, but keeping a clean stage can make a big difference in how you are perceived. I know that not every venue even offers a stage – sometimes it’s more like an 8 x 8 piece of floor space and an outlet that is a mile away.

messy stageBands need to come prepared, not only with the right equipment for making a restaurant or bar sound like a jazz hall or concert venue, but also creating a stage setup that partially hides where they really are. I have seen all types of efforts, spanning from a simple banner covering a window to black curtains and LED stage lighting. Some of you do a better job than others so I commend you on your efforts.

messy stageIt may take an extra hour or two of setup time, and a little back-end investment, but the extra efforts should pay off if your band is any good to begin with. I remember that when I was a teenager playing records at weekend parties, my friend and I would invest a portion of our earnings back into our little business to ensure that we always had the most up to date music. As for hardware, there’s always a market for used audio and visual equipment because not everyone stays “in the biz” forever. There are also lots of places that will rent equipment so you can always offer “upgrade” options to your venues if they are willing to pay a little more. Wouldn’t a laser light-show add a new dimension to your stage presence? Does your band or venue set aside a percentage of earnings to re-invest? It might be a good idea!

messy stageYou don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a decent impression. Run wires so that people do not trip on them or distract viewers. Use DUCK tape to hold them down. Set lists should not be flying around either. A power strip holding six heavy duty cables should not be hanging in the air unless someone was in such a hurry to setup that they couldn’t tape it down or find a longer cord. I have seen boxes and carts piled up next to speakers instead of hidden in backrooms or, at least, somewhere other than the front area.

Rosco Martinez at The Funky BiscuitFind good examples of clean stages by visiting other bands and venues on nights that you are not working. Use the calendar at to find out who is playing where. Look at some of the more experienced bands or the venues that have earned a reputation for hosting better known acts. There’s no reason you can’t steal some of their better ideas for a cleaner look and become an example for the next guy who comes along and uses you as his baseline! After all, what comes around goes around, right?

 November 5, 2012  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »